Friday, June 24, 2011

The Language of Memory

Here is my Friday afternoon science lesson....apparently, in brain scans, music fires up the medial prefrontal cortex and triggers a memory.  The memory runs through the head and brings images of places, people and incidents to mind.  Strong responses to music...ones that trigger our most pronounced memories....elicit the greatest activity on brain scans.  That is why stroke victims can access lyrics before they remember language and also why Alzheimer's patients can still remember songs from long ago.

My mother is mostly silent these days.  It is hard to determine what is going on in her mind.  My wish to communicate with her and the loss of our communication has been so hard to sit with.  I decided to make her a song list on my ipod and bring it in with earbuds.  The songs elicited strong feelings within me as many were songs we sung together in my childhood.  I had no illusions about this endeavor but knew the outcome if I didn't at least try.  I held her hand, turned on the music and watched as she closed her eyes and smiled gently, her head moving ever so slightly to the music, a memory perhaps unbidden,  but present none the less.  Today was a good day!

                                                      Mary's Playlist

  • My Darling Clementine
  • This Land is Your Land
  • Tennessee Waltz
  • How Much is that Doggie in the Window
  • America the Beautiful
  • Your a Grand Old Flag
  • Yellow Rose Of Texas
  • Crazy (Patsy Cline rendition)
  • God Bless America


  1. Great playlist and I listen with her. Think she'd like Shine on Harvest Moon?
    Here's to good days. **